“Away From” and “Towards” thinking

StuartIf you are wondering what this article is about from the title, its designed to help you improve your connection with the Seed of the Human Tree, with God. The distinction between away From and towards thinking may or may not be familiar to you. In any case I hope this article will stimulate you to think in a new way.

This article is not written to distract you with deep intellectual points, but rather to equip you with the practical tools that will enable you to get more from your experience of meditation. At this time of unrest across the planet and institutional instability, divine consciousness is possible, in fact it is being actively encouraged.

For your part, there may be bondages holding you back, sometimes like rubber bands, allowing you fleeting glimpses of what’s possible, before dragging you back into the mire.

And so the question is a simple one. Are you sufficiently motivated to give up some of your valuable time in order to take a skill that, before, you probably haven’t thought about much? How important is it to you that you continuously move forward in meditation? Bliss is a much overused word, often associated with fleeting phenomena or the quality associated with some commercial product. But in fact bliss is a very natural state that is able to be experienced when you are completely expressing your higher self, accurately in touch with the Divine Mother and Father.

But to attain bliss, there needs to be no mixture. No flashes from the grubby past. No nursing grievances or picking over old wounds.

Clearly, blissful meditation calls for a disciplined, highly focussed mind. This article sets out to achieve that so that you are not spending years stewing in whatever problem state it is that you may have experienced (and, we all know, test papers keep coming.) It sets out to highlight the difference between away from and towards thinking patterns and to clarify the consequences of each. And they are quite significant.

And, lest the article appears too didactic, there is complete assurance that it is designed just as much as a reminder for me, as much as offering the information to you.

After that build-up, those of you who are not familiar with the terminology of Away From and Towards thinking are probably quite keen to discover what it’s all about, and those of you who are familiar with the terminology are perhaps wondering how on earth it applies in this context.

Filtering Patterns

I first came across the notion of perceptual filters through my work. There is such an abundance of information available to us that our brain has to choose which information to pay particular attention to. Consequently, we “filter” the available information to select only that information which is valuable to us, and end up with unique “filtering patterns”

It is through our unique patterns that we express our “personalities.” Thus, two people enter a room. One scans the room for opportunities, while the other scans for potential threats. One is filtering for data that will enable them to move towards something, while the other is filtering for data that will enable him or her to move away from potentially hazardous situations.

Of course, we change filters in different situations. An accountant, for example, may be required to use very different filters to pour through some balance sheets than they do when rolling on the carpet later with their young child. But such changes tend to be patterned too, and consequently become predictable features of our personality.

It is worth noting that we are not just the “victims” of our filtering patterns. Rather, they are expressions of our personalities. They are strategically managed in support of our outcome in any situation. If, in any situation, it appears that our filtering patterns are not supporting us in the achievement of our outcome, then that is almost certainly because they are supporting an even higher outcome, often the need to stay “safe.” Often, when our patterns seem to clash in this way, it’s because there is an unconscious outcome that overrides what we are trying to achieve at a conscious level. For example, many people try, consciously, to be more out-going in social situations, only to find that their filters are still operating to support their deep concern with staying safe in a public setting.

Other examples of filters would be Time Orientation.  One person might be filtering for information that relates to the past, while another is scanning for information that might be used to construct the future.  A third might be solely interested in the present fun to be had.  Clearly a group containing these three different filtering patterns would be a strained group!

A third example might be:-  one person scanning for sameness while another is scanning for difference.  One is attending to the way things are connected, while the other is looking for the way things are disconnected.  One wants to lay emphasis on unity, while the other is appreciating the uniqueness of different things. One is seeing a treefull of leaves, the other is focused on the uniqueness of each leaf.

“Right” and “Wrong” Filtering Patterns

Of course, there are no right and wrong patterns, although there is a natural tendency for your particular patterns to seem attractive to you.

I know that in my business career I liked to think of myself, and present myself to potential clients, as a “towards” sort of person, who would keep minds focussed on plans for the future.  So it came as quite a shock when I realised that a lot of time was spent unconsciously planning to avoid potential hazards.

There are some patterns that are simply more appropriate than others for the achievement of a specific task. Having the identity of a successful person rests on your ability to manage the filtering process in an effective way.

Psychologists have identified around fifty filtering patterns, but it is unlikely that more than nine patterns could be tracked in a live scenario.

What’s all this got to do with Meditation?

Well actually, quite a lot.

When we first come into meditation, we may be asked to leave behind aspects of our life that we’re not sure we can live without.  Consequently we may spend our time initially looking back nervously and wondering if they can safely be left behind. This is an away from filter since our attention is on what we want to avoid.  It is often much later that a towards filter is deployed and so we can begin to understand what refined consciousness is all about.

But even as we progress along the way, circumstances (maya) can cause us to look back, and when we look back it may seem, through distorted lenses, that little progress has been made, or even worse, that we are attached by rubber bands that repeatedly haul us back towards behaviours that belonged to our previous lives.  Along with this comes a wave of hopelessness and a resultant loss of power.

What to do if I’m caught up in this?  As was mentioned above, the key to success is effective management of your filters.  If away from thinking isn’t working for you, switch to towards thinking.

Is it that easy? Well yes, if you accept that you are author of your own thinking.  But because you are dealing with patterned behaviour, it may be that thoughts will migrate back into routine channels to begin with, in which case vigilance may be required until new patterns emerge.

About the Author


is Edinburgh born and worked as a business consultant and trainer until March 2005 when he suffered a massive stroke which initially left him completely paralysed and speechless - what is called 'locked in syndrome'. He refused to succumb. Over time, he regained limited control over his right hand and arm and in 2008 he began writing his biography, 'A Most Curious Detour' motivated to help others like him. The book was published in 2010. Applying his life's learning to his situation, Stuart continues to make a slow, laborious recovery.

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